Tag Archives: craft whores

The Super Scholar – Common Personalities in Modern Paganism (and how to deal with them)

This second article on personality archetypes within the pagan “scene” will focus on the Super Scholars: Pagan Ultra-Academics.

Often the complete opposite of the Pogan, the Super Scholar can usually be found around the fire late at night at gatherings, where they will debate and discuss every possible facet of their current area of study, while at the same time arguing about every tiny point of Pagan history – both ancient and modern. These are the people who make a beeline for Elders (actual or perceived) at gatherings, anxious to glean any information that they can, and will interject with “actually, I think you’ll find…” at least four or five times during conversations on anything remotely related to Paganism.

But how do you pick a Super-Scholar from a run-of-the-mill academic?

  • Similar to the Craft Whore, the Super Scholar hoards books, artefacts and knowledge, and will happily trot out information and “facts” at the drop of a hat. The Super Scholar is less concerned with creating meaningful worship experiences, and more concerned by what Gerald Gardner said to his milkman in the summer of 1944.
  • Some Super Scholars raise themselves up to the same level as Pagan “Celebrities”, chasing and collecting initiations, titles and degrees by any means necessary – including phoney-baloney internet PhDs!
  • Often, these people will be the proverbial “dog with a bone” if they think you have information they can use.

While for these reasons and more Super Scholars should be kept at a safe distance if you come across them, it is important to think of this: in some ways, we should feel sorry for them. These mega-academics of paganism have not actually done themselves any favours, when it comes to worship and community.

The curse of the Super Scholar is threefold:

  1. Usually, they will have spent so much time studying Paganism and Pagans that they are in some ways unable to “switch off” – Every pagan event, ritual and social gathering becomes an anthropological study for them. In turn, this means that they can never truly relax and fully invest themselves in what is going on. There is always a need to analyse every tiny going-on, and then compare it to the huge swathes of information they have collected over the years.
  2. In the research phase, certain Super Scholars are so hungry for craft “wisdom” and “history” that they will lend an ear to almost anyone: bonafide “witches proper”, the fluffiest of bunnies and every squeaky wheel in between. Without proper discernment and fact-checking, this can lead to some fairly worrying or one-sided things being published. As a result, well-known Super Scholars are often mistrusted by understandably cautious pagans, and are kept at arms’ length in many instances.
  3. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the Super Scholar is his or her own worst enemy as far as ritual experience goes. Because when one studies (and studies, and studies) the rational explanations and unpackings of things like magical/ritual experience, shared experience, trance, energy raising, etc, it can lose a lot of its meaning at a divine level, and leave the poor old SS feeling more conflict and ennui than originally intended.

Generally, I prefer pagans who not only know their stuff to some extent, but are able to discern between the diamonds and the bollocks. But in some cases, folks overdo it. Sometimes it really is a case of knowing too much. I cannot speak for others, but I resent having my spiritual practice reduced to some sort of anthropological oddity. When all your tomes, recounts, artefacts and hearsay start affecting your ability to experience ritual and your relationship with most other pagans, it might be time to stop for a while. Shouldn’t some Mysteries remain just that?

– Galloway.

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The dreaded HPS disease

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The main reason for writing this blog post, was to post up this age-old poem that I got ages ago, a poem that has been on my mind lately. I’m not sure where my copy is, and I am not sure the verses are the same as this one that I just found on the internet…. They probably are.

HPS disease

I am the leader of this group
And before Me all you others stoop.
Bend thou, adore Me on your knees
For I have HPS disease!

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Lights My face with its silver shoon.
Call Me “Lady”, if you please,
For I have HPS disease!

For all you followers of the Law
Versed in ancient Celtic lore,
Tremble before My higher degrees,
For I have HPS disease!

Lions of Enoch, goats of Pan,
Your magic has but little span;
Know that I am greater than these,
For I have HPS Disease!

I am wonderful, I am good,
I am everything a Goddess should.
Kiss my lips, chest, groin and knees
For I have HPS disease.

You with mumps, diphtheria,
HIV, hysteria,
The earth will tremble when I sneeze,
For I have HPS Disease!

By Vivienne West

This poem completely rings true. Quite a few of us pagans and witches out there have met High Priestesses like this. It’s nothing I’ve suffered from, thankfully, however I’ve seen people in the past, and even some today that suffer from this disease, and to all appearances, are quite happy to suffer. Unfortunately, these disease-ridden people don’t only behave like a ‘lady’ around their own minions, but they expect everyone else to treat them the same way. At public gatherings, or private paid events, they will keep to themselves, their little coven huddled around them and following them around like little yellow chicks, chirping for attention. Nor do they enter into rituals, workshops, or lectures that people hold at said event. As I said, they keep to themselves, but attend these events to either a) Try to keep a public attendance up with other pagans, mainly to show off, or b) to recruit the gullible at said events into their magical coven of several dozen.

I have heard of and even seen the HPS have their own rituals at a public gathering too. Not attending the main ritual of the organisers, thus disrespecting the event and its organisers, the group often get ignored and thrown snarls of disgust by the other attendees, but as their members often reveal that they think themselves above all other attendees, it usually falls on deaf ears.

WW-bitch-please

Some of these particular types of HPS’s are quite young, some not much older than their minions, however, ‘as they MUST know more than me, I must obey’ their followers positively adore them. As mentioned in this spot-on blog post, many have the title of ‘Lady’ in front of their elaborate names. Hence the title of the Melbourne woman, Lady Elizabeth Rose. This is a classic example. These titles are one way of letting all public, pagan or muggle, know that they have this disease. Wise people stay away, for fear of catching it, but more likely because they are just idiots. Often their 3rd degree was given to them by themselves, probably only a few months after their self-initiated 1st. This gives them hierarchy over those they are teaching, who will believe anything they say. These groups often do not last long – any kind of civil war uprising soon gives way to side-taking, and that’s when people should run for cover. It’s the ‘all about ME’ disease.

This disease is not confined to the women, men too are guilty of such things. As said in the same blog I linked above, it is often more commonly women due to the hierarchy being headed by women out of the HP and HPS. Those with the Hera Complex (alpha-female) will burrow nicely into wicca, witchcraft and paganism, when they see how much reverence is involved.

Girls – Avoid women like this. If you have strong opinions and an independent mind, you might find you argue and fight with this person if you get involved in a group with one. Even if it is not your intention, they will think you are attempting to climb the ladder and be HPS yourself, and will tell everyone else that, thus gather side-takers. Boys can avoid them too. Be modest in your witchy workings, lead without being bossy, educate those who might be too conceited and may get worse. And I don’t just mean when you are young, but all your life, even when you are old and wise…

Back to the poem, which started this rant. It’s easy to get an image in your head of the HPS described by Vivienne West when she wrote this. Personally, I think many, many more verses could be added….

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Craft No Place for Arrogance

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I was talking to an important friend a while back, about Traditional British Wicca and the people that seek it out. I won’t post up the conversation, but will glean bits that I want to talk about in my own words. Gone are the days when Alex Sanders and Gerald Gardner initiated a person the day after they met them, and raised them to third degree by the end of the week. You have to put in time, perseverance and honour now. Well, you did then too, but anyone interested was allowed into the scene and into the secrets.

Today, after a few decades of modern day Wicca, there is a large level of discernment. You can’t just waltz in anymore, you need to prove yourself to the coven you want to enter. They need to get to know you – all parts of you – they want to see how you will react in difficult social situations, how you handle other people, and how you behave within gossiping circles, and indeed, whether or not you even bother getting involved. Do you LOVE to argue about everything? That might not be a good thing, if you want in.

The Alexandrian and Gardnerian Traditions have begun to discriminate, because they have had too many nutjobs within their scene, which in turn, gives them a bad name. Just like anything. People with mental issues and mental illnesses frequent the pagan/witchcraft scene, as Galloway and I have mentioned in some form, within previous posts. You will definitely meet some personalities with whom you will clash with, and a lot you think should not be in a position of power. A lot of these people are like a moth to the flame in the pagan/wiccan scene because it makes them feel like somebody unique. Some people love to tell others how it is, so they love to be in an expert position where they can spread their word. Some love to know every bit of knowledge so they can hold debates with others about topics, and show off what they know, whether the other people want a debate or not. Some people just want to enjoy the sunshine and rainbow colours of a pagan event, not debate about what Aleister Crowley said to Austin Osman Spare 100 years earlier.

My friend in this British Wiccan group spoke to me about some recent ‘applicants’ wanting into the Craft and the coven, who did not ‘get’ the requirements. There were some personality traits lacking in these people that may never ever exist, unless they take a step down from their high horses. Arrogance and ego. These two words are not really all that welcome within Wicca today, at least not particular levels of it. Elitism at a level is not welcome either. I have, over the years managed to delineate between these three words and find two levels too it – there could even be more than two levels. I’ve seen elitism, ego and arrogance in its most pleasant form, where the people involved are within the ‘nicer’ spectrum of these three words, and these people are usually running the show, because they need to keep the negative people out. You need to be arrogant to be ruthless. And I’ve seen plenty of people in the ‘severe’ spectrum of them too. The severe arrogant, egotistical people are the ones I will talk about.

Pride, superiority, and snobbery have been observed in this scene when it was not even needed. The nicer elitists are discerning and judicious, which is where your elitist word comes in, they are in a position of power, and decide who they want in their group. They need to be discerning, or else they will get sick of a lot of people very quickly, and probably then won’t be able to get rid of them. Ever. Even I’ve seen that in local wiccan groups. Initiates are not given another degree, because they have been rude, demanding and selfish, and won’t do the work.

The Craft Whore

One particular kind of person I am most interested in is what Galloway and I call the craft whore. This person knows the ins and outs of everything to do with paganism, witchcraft, wicca, and other pre-christian religions and magical groups like Thelema, that had the fair grace to leave the shores of Britain. They will kiss the arse of those they consider elders, and even then, deep down, think they know more than those elders. There was one person that I loved hearing about from my friend, who wants into a coven, but cannot fathom some of the requests and personalities needed to be accepted. This person has no real opinion of their own – as a craft whore, they have read everything under the sun about everything, having decided what they think is right, but they do not have their own experiences to distinguish an opinion of their own. Nor could they fathom that they needed empathy. They looked confused when the words humility, hilarity, compassion and even maturity were needed within the Craft. When asked if they could do something, they simply did not understand and instead said that they had read about it, and had heard several opinions about the same thing, all from reading. Where is the experience? Where is the personal involvement within a situation, where you had a ‘moment’ with someone else in ritual, and could determine what you felt, what emotions surfaced. Empathy, selflessness and humility are important in the craft as much as hilarity and mirth. Not apathy, selfishness, arse-kissing, power and knowledge. While knowledge is important, it is not the only thing.

This person also wanted mystery and secrecy within a ritual they once conducted, and the ritual did not work the way they wanted it to, because they were too serious about it – YES! Being too serious in the Craft can be a big problem sometimes, and the Gods will just laugh at you. The person was also so confident that the ritual would be amazing, faultless and so perfectly written, that there was no rehearsal. Their rude behaviour towards other elders in the scene was just a time-bomb waiting to go off, the elders were invited by this person to this ritual so they could prove to the elders how amazing they were. It ‘died in the arse’ as some would say. Instead of gleaning respect, the individual lost more than they already had. They were rude to their fellow ritualists, and so arrogantly confident, that when things went wrong, they refused to admit that things had gone wrong, therefore never apologised. As far as it has been seen, this person has not learned from any of their mistakes, and still cannot fathom empathy. They arse-kiss anyone they think are worthy, and think they are better and more knowledgeable than those who they deem beneath them. They think that what they know will get them in, also who they know, and how popular they are. There is so much more to it than that. Sometimes these people expect too much from the coven, and get disappointed it’s not what they anticipated.

They are the kind of person who would read this blog post and not realise it’s them that I am talking about. That is how ignorant they are about their own character.

Authority Issues

Another issue in the craft is the problem with authority. In an old coven, you’ll probably have respectful elders who have been around for a long time. They will know a lot. And they will probably tell you what to do, not in a power-trip way, but because you may need to learn how to do it. It’s all for your good; your betterment within the Craft. If, of course, what you are told to do is a bit dubious, then this elder may not be who they say they are. Today, as mentioned earlier, elders and coven members will suss you out for a long time if you want into a scene, you have a chance to get to know them too, and decide whether they are the right kind of person to listen to/be involved with. But if you have a problem with authority, you may lose your chance at entering into this particular Craft scene. One person my friend spoke of, learned that this person did not like authority, so when she tested them, they failed the first test when they took it personally, thus ‘giving the finger’ to the Craft. Well, there was one arrogant person who never made it into the first level of the Craft because they showed their colours straight away! You must test your students in every way possible to see whether they are worthy. If you want into a group and don’t like authority, you will be tested – it may be like you are being bullied, and if you retaliate arrogantly, you should perhaps think about leaving. You probably just failed and will be given no other chance, unless you realise your mistake, apologise and want a re-test. How will you learn and move on if you cannot handle being told what to do?

These people were trying to get into one of the traditional Wiccan covens you hear about – from the line of Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders of Britain, who have exclusive groups, but are not all that uncommon in the world. It didn’t work for them. You may think you are right for this or that coven, but in reality, it may not be right for you, you may be disappointed it’s not how you expected it. These days you must show your worth in all ways, not just what you’ve read. And you have to do the work – you cannot read every book out there and think you’ll be let in just like that.

This is why some covens go underground as mentioned in this small article here. People wonder why the traditional wiccan covens of the world shut up shop and not let anyone in so easily anymore. Can you blame them? With people like those mentioned above, it’s no wonder there are elitists out there keeping to themselves.

If you have not dealt with any of the issues from your childhood, then do not expect to bring your issues to a pagan group of any sort, dump your attitudes on them and be heartily welcomed. You WILL be told you are not mentally equipped to be involved in the Craft, and they will be correct in telling you that. Some mentally ill people ignore this – actually, most do. Be wary of this.

Some of the fluffier covens out there just like this one, will let just about anyone within their graceful doors, and frequently have issues that pop up in time. Letting anyone in can be a problem, especially when there is a good chance that you might let in the most recent mentally ill patient recently released from the local institution. They let anyone who is anyone in, and often, these places are the ones you would rather avoid because every nutter who likes the idea of paganism and witchcraft is allowed in. These ‘covens’ usually destroy themselves in time because of this. In-bitching, fighting, disagreements, problems with who is the ‘leader.’ Some could be sociopaths who love to seduce you and eventually garner money from you for their own personal desires. Be careful who you make friends with!

Conclusion:

–          If you are in a group or coven, don’t be too shy to discriminate and be discerning, if it’s for the good of your group.

–          Test your newer members unscrupulously.

–          There is good elitism and bad elitism – you may see both examples in the pagan scene, if you study people.

–          Be in control of who you chose to hang around with, you ARE allowed to leave a group whenever you feel uncomfortable.

–          Remember empathy, loyalty and honour is virtuous.

–          Knowledge will get you places, but not everywhere.

–          Power is nowhere near the most important thing in the Craft, and it will not get always get you where you want.

–          Show respect to all elders – they will know if you are just sucking up to them.

–          Don’t think that everyone new to the public pagan scene knows nothing, they may surprise you – treat everyone with respect upon meeting them.

~ yet another bossy post by Daracha ~

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